ScratchJr is a free programming language for children ages 5-7. In the summer of 2014, ScratchJr was released as a free iPad app. As of August 2023, the app has over 45 million users. Furthermore, volunteers from around the world have helped translate ScratchJr into 48 languages! As of August 2023 over 194 million ScratchJr projects have been created, and over 45 million users. The top 10 countries using ScratchJr include: US, Japan, UK, Iran, India. Australia, Canada, Peru, Germany, Brazil.
Since January 2016, the DevTech Research Group has used Google Analytics to collect ScratchJr user data. Google Analytics is a free tool that allows access to user activity as it happens in real-time on the app, as well as audience location, acquisition, and behavior. However, given ScratchJr’s young demographics, privacy was a top concern for the team. Only non-identifying information is collected and researchers do not have access to the pictures or sounds that children can import or any of their specific projects.
The DevTech Research Group at Boston College directed by Prof. Marina Umaschi Bers, is partnering with public school districts in two northeastern states of the United States to conduct research and professional development with regard to the “Coding as Another Language” Education Innovation Research (EIR) grant from US Dept of Education (grant #U411C190006) which explores the integration of coding and computational thinking in K-2 classrooms. The project utilizes the free ScratchJr programming language, co-developed by Dr. Bers, which is currently widely used all over the world by around 32 million children, and the pilot-tested curriculum, “Coding as Another language (CAL)”. This curriculum aligns the integration of computational thinking and computer science with learning about math and literacy, through a collaborative, project-based process. Through this partnership, the project seeks to accomplish three goals:
The CAL curriculum is evaluated for impact through a randomized control trial design with delayed treatment. Impact in K-2 is assessed through differences in learning outcomes in computational thinking and coding skills, math, and language development. A transfer and sustainability study compares fidelity of implementation across groups and measures perceived sustainability through interviews with teachers and Tech Leaders and the development of a strategic plan for being able to continue the work after the grant period ends.
The CAL-USA project began with a Pre-Pilot study, working with two schools in Massachusetts and one school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Following the Pre-Pilot, a Pilot study was conducted, both virtually and in hybrid format with over 250 children and 30 early childhood teachers at schools in Minnesota, Arkansas, and California. Now, the CAL-USA project is in year two of implementing a Randomized Control Trial in public school districts in two northeastern states of the United States. Report for year one (2021-2022) for each state can be found here and here. Through this work, ScratchJr and the CAL curriculum has reached 43 schools, 120 early childhood teachers, 1,600 K-2 students.
DevTech Research Group has partnered the Varkey Foundation and Comunidad Atenea to implement the CAL-ScratchJr curriculum in Corrientes and Mendoza, Argentina. The project leads for this study are Pamela Gonzalez and Hernan Gonzalez, coordinated by Carolina Gimenez.
The CAL-Argentina study is implementing the CAL-ScratchJr curricula across all three grades. The study design mirrors that of the CAL USA project.
Special thank you to Pamela Gonzalez for translating all three curricula into Spanish.
The project has brought CAL-ScratchJr instruction to 80 early childhood teachers and over 600 K-2 students in Corrientes and Mendoza in Argentina.
To learn more about this project, visit our Papers page.
The DevTech Research Group at Boston College has partnered with the Mindful Learning Technologies Lab at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology to bring CAL to Israel. The project leads in Israel are Professor Rinat Rosenberg-Kima and doctoral student Avia Ben-Ari in collaboration with the Hod HaCarmel School.
The CAL-Israel study is implementing both CAL-ScratchJr and CAL-KIBO to two different kindergarten classrooms, with the hope of investigating the impact of the CAL curriculum across different modalities. The study design mirrors that of the CAL USA project.
Special thank you to Avia Ben-Ari for translating both the CAL-ScratchJr and CAL-KIBO kindergarten curricula into Hebrew.
This pilot study has reached 4 teachers and 30 kindergarten students in Haifa, Israel.
For DevTech’s Publications on this work visit our Papers page.
As a part of the Scratch Education Collaborative, DevTech has partnered with 21organizations worldwide in countries such as Nigeria, Greece, Nepal, Uruguay, Brazil, Israel, Spain, Ecuador, and Portugal creating a CAL-ScratchJr Special Interest Group.
Our partners have many different options of how to engage with CAL: Localize, Teach, or conduct Research, or a combination.
DevTech has begun working with 23 organizations worldwide across 5 different continents. Through these partnerships, ScratchJr and the CAL Curriculum will be brought to hundreds of early childhood educators and K-2 students around the world. Additionally, the CAL Curriculum is being translated into many new languages including Portuguese, Arabic, and Nepali.
For DevTech’s Publications on this work visit our Papers page.
The CritiCAL project, directed by Prof. Marina Bers and Prof. Henry Braun at Boston College, aims to investigate the relationship between computational thinking (CT), critical thinking (CrT) and coding in pre-service and in-service early childhood educators.
In Spring of 2023 the DevTech Research Group partnered with a private university to conduct a small Pre-Pilot study with a class of preservice and inservice educators to investigate the relationship between Computational Thinking and Critical Thinking in educators who underwent the intervention of TeachCAL, DevTech’s online asynchronous professional development module.
For publications on this work visit our Papers page.
DevTech is exploring the cognitive and neural basis of computer programming in young children by using innovative approaches such as f-MRI and f-NIRS.
This work comes at a time when there is a re-envisioning of STEM in early childhood education as well as a push for integrating coding at all levels of the educational system. Understanding the cognitive and neural basis of programming is key for developing learning trajectories in computational thinking, effective curricula, and policy recommendations for incorporating the teaching of computer science in the early years.
To read publications on this project please visit DevTech’s Papers page.